This week, as part of the ‘homework’ we set ourselves, I intentionally tried to do lots of random acts of kindness whenever I came across the opportunity.
- Picking up an earring for a woman who dropped it on the floor
- Saying thank you to bus drivers with eye-contact
- Having a conversation with the man selling Big Issue on the corner by uni
- Picking up a can from the pavement and putting it in a bin
- Sending thought-out Xmas cards to people from my past who mean a lot to me
- Letting the man at the fruit stall keep the change I was owed
- Going over my volunteering commitment for the good of the group and our purpose
- Giving up my seat for others on the bus/ tube
- Letting people go in front of me in lines
- Smiling randomly at people I pass in the street
- Giving people I love hugs
- Saying Merry Chirstmas to people behind the til in Primark
One reason that I’m really going for this is that I’m struggling to love the world right now. I’ve had a really difficult week. I’ve been angry and hurt. I felt suicidal until yesterday. When I’m struggling like this it’s easy to become willful and hateful, and to retreat into myself. It’s easy to go about life ignoring everyone I pass, scowling, lost within my thoughts and pain; missing opportunities in each moment to give something back to the world.
Practicing random acts of kindness means I’m extending myself to a world beyond my inner experiences, and reaching out in this way in turn decreases the pain I am feeling. There is so much out there but my perspective narrows dramatically when I am stuck in my own pain. Seeing others respond positively to my positive intentions however restores a sense of purpose, hope and self-respect. It makes me feel like my life is that tiny bit more worth living.
Sometimes the action has to come first, and then the feelings follow. Do something kind, feel good about oneself; do something to show your respect towards others, boost your own self-respect; do something for the greater good of the world, in turn start taking better care of yourself. Not always, but often, acting with intention in this way can really change the way I experience the world.
The saying “it’s the little things in life that count“ also feels fitting here. I have been baffled at how the smallest interactions (e.g. wishing a stranger Merry Christmas and it being met with such gratitude and reciprocation) have filled up even just a little of the spirit lost in me over this last week.
I certainly feel a lot more at one with the world when I am acting with an attitude of compassion and openness as opposed to hostility towards it.
When I am struggling to find a sense of purpose within my self, externalising in the ways described above helps invaluably. If in the moment I feel I am no longer able to exist for myself, at least I can continue existing for somebody else until my own pain passes.